Hide the Bell in the Christmas Tree

Gather around all, I’m going to tell you the story of the Christmas bell, even though it doesn’t directly (or even indirectly) relate all that much to gardening.

Once upon a time, in the 1960’s, when there were only four stations on television and holiday movies had to be watched when the networks aired them, there were five children who grew more and more anxious each day for the arrival of Christmas. They would sit around their living room and gaze at the decorated Christmas tree, wondering what it would look like on Christmas morning after Santa came and brought all their presents.

To pass the time, because back then there seemed to be extra time to pass, the children came up with a game called “Hide the Bell in The Christmas Tree”. For amongst all the ornaments on the tree, there was a tiny white porcelain bell, decorated with a little blue candle, a spring of holly and the words “Merry Christmas” written in shiny gold. It was no more than an inch tall and all the children loved the bell as their favorite ornament.

The rules of “Hide the Bell in The Christmas Tree” were simple. One child would hide the bell somewhere in the tree and then the others would try to find it. Then whoever found it got to hide it for the next round. And so it would go for what seemed like hours, but was probably 15 minutes at best.

Fast forward several decades. The children are all grown up with Christmas trees and living rooms of their own. They have all gathered for Christmas and their mother has told them they can each take an ornament from the tree to have as their own.

The four older children each took a special ornament, but left the bell alone. They would not even consider the thought of taking that bell for their very own. But not the youngest sibling. She marched up to the tree, and in one last, final round of “Hide the Bell in the Christmas Tree’, found the bell and took it for her own.

The older ones were shocked. Cries of protest were heard. “You can’t take the bell!” “No fair!” “Leave that there!” “Mom didn’t mean to include the bell!” But, the protests went unheeded, and she kept the bell. She kept the bell.

Then one day, the middle daughter was browsing through an antique store, looking at a display of old Christmas decorations, when suddenly she saw a box of one dozen white porcelain bells. And two of them were EXACTLY like the family bell. She could not believe it! Without hesitation, she bought them. She called her sister. “Can you get the bell and describe it for me", even though she knew she had found not one, but two bells like THE bell.

And they were the same! Such a find! Such joy she had over her unbelievable, improbable find at the antique store. She taunted her sister. “Ha! Now I have two of the bells and 10 others as well.” To which her sister responded, “But I have the original bell.”

But does she? The bells are nearly exactly alike, so they could easily be switched, couldn’t they? And would she notice? How well does she really know that bell? Well enough to spot it in an antique store like her older, wiser sister?

Now the grown children can play “Who Has the Real Bell” while they wait for Christmas!

Top of the box

All 12 bells

Bottom of the box

The End


  1. Hmm... can I guess which of the sisters you are? *grin* Sounds like you're going to have fun this Christmas playing hide--or should I say switch--the bell!

  2. Carol, I love this story! How clever of you to spot the box of bells, and I expect to hear you will cleverly get the original bell back, too. Gotta watch those younger siblings, they can get away with anything!

  3. In my parents' family of five children the middle daughter was known as "The Instigator"... and apparently that's true in your family, too, Carol.
    It's enough to make you believe in the birth order experts.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  4. You have a nice collection of christmas bells. I have three glass bells to ring. But since the children are adult, I have not longer a christmas tree.


  5. Well, you may have the Christmas bell, but who has the other three bells you don't have?
    The older sister.

  6. I just love making finds like that when shopping. I wonder how your mother got the original bell?

  7. I have no clue as to where the bell came from. It looks old enough to maybe have been my mother's originally. You are right,Carol is very adept at getting what ever family heirloom she wants. That's because she's not afraid to ask for it.

  8. What a lovely story of Christmas past.. thank you for sharing.
    Humm.. I wonder who really has the original come Christmas future.

  9. What a fun game you have begun. FYI Found some similar bells on ebay and they seem to be from the 40's or 50's so maybe the 52 on the back was the year they were shipped from Japan. They were boxed in 12s or 24s and most sets had the silver bell missing. Guess the silver bell was special to find in a box.
    Have fun with the bells and Merry Christmas.

  10. OK. Now you have gone too far. In my defense, there were no rules as to what ornaments we could take. The others forgot about the bell and didn't think to take it. That's all. Very simple really. Now, as far as who has the REAL bell.....for the last two years we have had 5 kittens/cats who considered the Christmas tree their own personal Christmas present. Being the youngest, but wise never-the-less, I have not put the bell on the tree fearing it would be broken by the cats crawling through the tree. It has been safely tucked away in a box -- hidden. Now, if this is a declaration of intent by the middle sister, I will have to think strategy. But, is this really necessary? Must I deprive my children of the game of "Hide the bell" out of fear that the gardening aunt will sneak in and switch the bell? Come on..... you got the gardening gene-what else could you possibly need?

  11. All

    A few comments on these comments...

    Annie, are we to assume you are "The Instigator" in your family?

    Kathy with the three bells, I will be posting about those bells, too, watch and wait.

    Sister with the Homestead AND the bell, I think the Right thing to do is let me keep the bell until you no longer have cats that could climb up in your tree and knock it over. Do all agree?

    Susie, I am going to eBay now to see about these bells!

    Thanks all for the comments!

  12. Oh what a wonder post! I feel like I'm sitting at the table listening to the siblings just like oh so many family gatherings. I too wander through the thrift shops' Christmas collection with an eye out for special items from my long past Christmas days. Congratulations on the find and keeping the family tradition going.

  13. This is a wonderful story and if I ever find any of those bells anywhere, I think I'm going to have to get some for myself. I'm heading to Ebay now...

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today and leaving a comment. Come back any time!

  14. What a wonderful childhood memory Carol. Are you telling who has the bell?? tee hee...


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